Violent Antifa Protesters Try to Shut Down Pro-Trump 'Patriot Prayer' Rally in Seattle
Hundreds of pro-Trump demonstrators and anti-Trump counter-protesters converged at Westlake Park in downtown Seattle on Sunday, resulting in several arrests and the confiscation of weapons.
The rally, organized by the conservative group Patriot Prayer, came one day after violent clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left three people dead and dozens injured.
Counter-protesters -- including antifa, Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), Veterans for Peace, Indivisible Seattle, Black Lives Matter, and the Freedom Socialist Party -- marched "in solidarity against hate," specifically against what they called “the bigotry, racism and violence" of the "far-right" organizers. Solidarity Against Hate counter-protesters waved communist flags, yelled "f*ck America," squirted police with silly-string, and burned the American flag.
Seattle police used pepper spray and "blast balls" to keep the two groups away from each other, The Seattle Times reported.
Joey Gibson, one of the organizers of the Patriot Prayer group, posted a video on Facebook asking participants in the Sunday rally to avoid clashing with counter-protesters.
In his Facebook video, Gibson said “a lot of people are going to be frustrated” by his request that they do not fight with the counter-protesters.
“We’re not going up to Seattle to battle,” Gibson said. “It’s not a battle royale. We’re not up there to have street fights … It doesn’t look good.”
The anti-hate counter protesters did come to do battle.
Seattle police used the “blast balls” (similar to flash-bang grenades), pepper spray, and "a little physical herding" to keep antifa rioters and the pro-Trump prayer rally participants apart.
Lined up in full riot gear with helmets and plastic face shields, so far the officers have been pelted only with harsh language and silly string. There’s a lot of shouting and swearing.
At Westlake Park, antifa shouted down the pro-Trump speakers. According to The Seattle Times, "more than once someone from the crowd has jumped onto the stage to grab the microphone away."
"I stand with anyone of any color, of any ideology, of any lifestyle, who agrees that America is the greatest country in this world," said one speaker at the pro-Trump rally.
A Seattle councilman complained that Seattle police blocked hundreds of "peaceful" counter-protesters from reaching the pro-Trump rally.
Mike O'Brien says he joined Sunday's march to stand in solidarity against the violence and racism in Charlottesville over the weekend.
He says he walked with other peaceful protesters toward Westlake Park, where the Patriot Prayer group was holding a rally. But officers blocked their route several times.
O'Brien says he texted Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O'Toole in the middle of the march and she told him demonstrators would not be allowed to proceed to Westlake Park.